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Teaching kids tick prevention could help curb tick borne illness

A Maine tick prevention message that is becoming a lasting habit not only for students but their family members as well.

PORTLAND, Maine — Ticks are on the march through Maine taking over territory they never have before.

Experts and logic tell us that preschool and elementary school kids are at greater risk for tick-borne diseases. The reasons are obvious… kids play in leaves, roll on the grass and use the outdoors as their playground. 

Health professions students in the Care for the Underserved Pathway (CUP) Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Scholar Honors Distinction program, work with people in rural under served rural Maine communities.

 As part of the two year rural immersion program, heath profession students go into schools teaching kids about oral health, brain science and tick intervention and prevention.  

UNE hired Adina Bercowicz to put together a curriculum for elementary age students. Becowicz founded LymeTV, a non-profit that works to educate the public about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. was diagnosed with late-stage Neurological Lyme disease and other co-infections, which led to brain damage and other secondary diseases. 

"Rural Maine communities may not be fulled prepared or know all the risks about ticks diseases,"  Bercowicz said.

The program will use LymeTv's coloring books, activity sheets and other materials to teach kids how to spot a deer tick, the diseases they transmit, the importance of wearing protective clothing and how to do a tick check.  So far kids are bringing their new habits home. 

"They really take to messages of wearing your socks over pants and what the right way to remove a tick and we all know kids love to tell their parents when they are doing something wrong," Gunderman said.

Creating important safety routines at a young age  -- that could eventually help prevent cases of Lyme and tick-borne illness.

As for Bercowicz a mother of a young boy, she would like to see tick education and prevention taught in schools everywhere one day.

"Just like washing hands or sex education or any other health education course, it should be standard in schools because it's a public health issue," says Bercowicz.

For information on the AHEC program at the University of New England.

To learn more about LymeTV, go here

Tick and Lyme disease prevention education information from the Centers for Disease Control.

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